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Topaz crosses belonging to Jane and Cassandra Austen

Topaz crosses

...purchased by Charles Austen as a gift for his sisters, Jane and Cassandra.

These crosses were purchased by Charles Austen as a gift for his sisters, Jane and Cassandra. Charles was in the Royal Navy and was involved in the capture of a French ship, and received a share of the prize money associated with this capture. He used the money to buy these crosses for his sisters.

Jane Austen used this event in her novel, Mansfield Park. Her heroine, Fanny Price, receives an amber cross from her sailor brother, William, following the capture of an enemy ship.

Jane was given the cross on the left, and her sister Cassandra was given the cross on the right.

Quick Facts

  • Made of Topaz and gold
  • Dimensions of crosses Length 4cm, Width 3.5cm, and Length 3,5cm, Width 3cm
  • Given to Jane and Cassandra Austen
  • Purchased and given in 1801
  • Accession numbers CHWJA:JAH20.1 and CHWJA:JAH20.2

Facts

  • “[Charles] has received 30 pounds for his share of the privateer & expects 10 pounds more–but of what avail is it to take prizes if he lays out the produce in presents to his Sisters.  He has been buying Gold chains & Topaze Crosses for us;–he must be well scolded.”

    Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, May 27, 1801

  • Topaz is a fluosilicate of aluminium, transparent and lustrous, found in many colours - yellow, white, pale blue or pale green, found in Brazil, Mexico, Saxony, Scotland and the Ural Mountains.

Did you know?

Replicas of these crosses were worn by the actresses playing Elizabeth and Jane Bennett in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

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